Border Wall

Wildlife Reserve at Mercy of Trump’s Border Wall

It seems as though US President Donald Trump’s wish for the border wall is finally coming true.

Or at least, partly.

The US government is beginning to prepare the construction of additional border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as a wildlife refuge property. At least, to begin with, according to plans released by the US Customs and Border Protection.

Although Trump and the top Democrats remain in a standstill over the demand for US$5.7 billion (AU$7.9 billion) for border wall funding, US Customs and Border Protection is pushing ahead for what was already approved in March last year — more than US$600 million (AU$830 million) for 53 kilometres of new barriers in the Rio Grande Valley.

Already, the CBP have reported that heavy construction equipment was expected to arrive on the site on Monday. Meanwhile, a photo posted by the non-profit National Butterfly Center depicts an excavator parked next to its property.

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Privately-owned land and historical sites also at threat

According to a map released by the CBP, this construction will cut right through the butterfly centre, a nearby state park, and a century-old Catholic chapel by the river.

However, the plans state that the CBP intend to construct on federally-owned land, first.

AP reports that the initial construction was described as fencing, which was supported by some Democrats in both the House and Senate — however, the CBP refers to it as a ‘border wall system’.

As part of these wall plans, the CBP shows the design of 40 kilometre on concrete wall, raising to the height of the existing flood-control levee in Hidalgo County (next to Rio Grande, the wall that forms the US–Mexico border).

Atop these concrete walls, 5.5-metre steel posts will be installed, as well as a 45-metre enforcement zone in front.

However, existing landowners have been opposing the plans of the wall, vowing to fight the US government if their land is subject to seizing. But these court fights could take weeks, if not months, to conclude. Valuable time lost while these plans continue to go ahead.

Plans to go ahead despite wildlife concerns

At least for the moment, the CBP intends to start their construction on federally-owned land. But environmental advocates are expecting the government to push through the wildlife reserve, consisting of masses of land purchased over decades to create a sanctuary for endangered species and wildlife.

Already, the butterfly centre has announced their property south of the levee is off limits and is seeking legal action. Protestors have been seen walking on Monday along the river where the construction is intending to start.

Jim Chapman, a long-time resident of the area, said that despite months of protests and meetings, there had been no acknowledgement by the US government to protect the needs of these endangered species.

If you were going to design a border wall with maximal impact, you would do exactly what they were doing,’ Chapman said.

You couldn’t do it worse.’

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The Australian Tribune Editorial

The Australian Tribune Editorial

The Australian Tribune is an unorthodox news service. Your Australian Tribune editorial team deliver the unfiltered stories that could impact your daily life — political and economic stories you’re unlikely to get anywhere else. And we’re not afraid to step on some toes to do it. We are honest, conservative and never dull. We are an independent service, meaning we don’t answer to shareholders or outside advertisers. This helps avoid conflicts of interest that inhibit mainstream sources, which keeps our voice independent. The Australian Tribune is owned and operated by Port Phillip Publishing.
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